ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico is mirroring national trends of statistical stagnation in reading and math scores.
But the state saw a couple areas of slight progress.
For fourth grade public school students, average scores in math went down from 231 in 2015 to 230 in 2017. A proficient score for fourth grade math – defined by the National Assessment of Educational Progress – is about 250 and a basic score is at about 215.
Math scores are calculated from tests that include measurement, geometry, statistics and algebra questions.
Overall, New Mexico made no notable strides forward or backward. And the state isn’t alone with 41 states’ fourth-graders also lacking statistical differences from their 2015 scores, according to the NAEP data, released every two years.
The test is used for state by state comparisons, and is used in determining national education rankings.
Nationally, fourth-graders were sitting at 239 last year compared to 240 in 2015.
As for New Mexico’s eighth-graders, who had an average score of 269, they’re 13 points behind 2017’s national average. That 269 is also a slight, two-point drop from 2015.
A proficient math score for the middle schoolers is closer to 300 and a basic score is roughly 262.
Similarly to fourth grade scores, 48 states saw no significant growth or decline in eighth grade math.
New Mexico’s reading scores went up a small degree both for fourth- and eighth-graders.
At the fourth grade level, scores averaged 208, which is right at the basic mark. Proficient reading scores are just under 240.
In 2015, the fourth-graders were averaging 207 and 2013 showed kids were at 206.
Nationwide the average was 221 the past three years.
The reading test evaluates students on memory, interpretation and critique of a passage.
New Mexico’s eighth grade average of 256 was well above the basic distinction, which is at about 243. In 2015, the readers’ average was 253.
But to become proficient, eighth grade reading scores need to get near 280.
And across the country the average last year was 265.
In alignment with the national math averages, 43 states saw no significant change in their fourth grade reading score and 41 states saw no significant change in their eighth grade scores.
“It is New Mexico’s goal to be the fastest growing state in the country by 2020. We have a lot of work to do in taking the NAEP exam seriously with next year’s fourth- and eighth- graders, so that New Mexico sees the same student growth on the NAEP that we’ve seen in Advanced Placement, Graduation Rates, and on the PARCC,” New Mexico Public Education Department spokeswoman Lida Alikhani wrote in part via email.
Alikhani also said beginning in June, New Mexico will launch a NAEP 2019 Campaign “so that students, parents, and educators rally together to highlight the significance of this exam on New Mexico’s national ranking.”
According to PED, 2,500 total students from 150 elementary and 120 middle schools in New Mexico took the NAEP exams online.
NAEP data from the 1990s to 2017 shows New Mexico has never reached the proficient mark for reading or math in either fourth or eighth grade.
Last year was the first year NAEP, a project under the U.S. Department of Education, was a digital test instead of a paper-and-pencil assessment for both reading and math.